I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition on my way to work. I like it because, during my 25-minute commute, I get a pretty good sense of whether anything significant has happened in the world in that last few hours. I also usually get to hear a more in-depth extended piece about an interesting topic, like what is happening in a foreign land or a developing social phenomenon.
One thing about Morning Edition drives me nuts, however. I call it “conversational news.” It occurs when the host — and it always seems to be Steve Inskeep — talks with an NPR reporter in the field. Rather than the reporter just delivering his report, he or she and Steve will have a stilted conversation during which Steve will inevitably say “I’m confused — didn’t the government just take the opposite position?” or something similar that consciously attempts to move the story along. My hypothesis is that, somewhere along the way, NPR decided that a reporter just delivering his or her report, perhaps with an interview comment or two spliced in, was not sufficiently exciting for listeners. As a result, we get the silly back and forth between the seemingly perpetually confused host and the reporter who seeks to bring order out of chaos.
Dear NPR: Please just let the reporters report! Don’t waste our time and insult our intelligence with the phony and contrived discussions. They are exceptionally irritating and detract from what is otherwise a fine news program.